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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » The Depository » » Why do the Royals look to the right or the left? (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

StraightTalkMagicReviews
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Anyone know why the Kings, Queens and Jacks face in a certain direction and why the Jack of Clubs is the only card that does not face the same direction as his Kings and Queen? Some Royals look right, some look left and I don't know why! HELP!!!
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Topper2
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Does there have to be a reason? It's just the way the tradition has developed. Those who like to use cards for fortune telling come up with all sorts of invented ideas as to what it all means, but mostly it's hokum. For example if a court card is facing one way you can say it is looking to the past, if it looks in the opposite way it looks to the future etc. Also how you lay the cards out may be considered relevant, thus the two one-eyed Jacks can be laid so they look directly at each other or away from each other and according to the whim of the diviner you can read different interpretations into these juxtapositions (friendship versus animosity for example).

The King of Hearts is often called the 'suicide King' because he is supposedly stabbing himself through the head with his sword, but you could equally say he was raising his sword in anger to strike another. One Jack is clean shaven while the others are not, and so on, there's no end to what significance you can put upon it, this does offer some good patter possibilities during a routine but that doesn't mean the original designer of the earliest pack of cards had any special intentions in mind other than making them look interesting and attractive.
Topper2
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Further to what I said above, for fortune telling (or patter purposes) you can say that whereas the other suits signify harmony in the family because they all see things the same way, in the case of Clubs the Jack looks in a different direction from his 'parents' and this suit therefor signifies strife or discord in the family.

Alternatively, where a card looks to the left you can say it represents the past, whereas if it looks to the right it represents the future and if it looks ahead it refers to the present.

All useful spiel when you're trying to work out a patter line for a trick involving Court cards.
Jonathan Townsend
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It seems deeply ingrained to playing card designers. As far back as 1700.

Amusing fact: https://oll.libertyfund.org/pages/new-pl......-1793-94

Maybe one of our card gaffers would offer a few reversed cards and we can find out how people react. Smile
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ringmaster
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Why do the Royals look to the right or the left ?
What other chooses do they have ?
Less than 2% of reported UFO's turn out to be actual interplanetary vehicles.
Tortuga
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Quote:
On Nov 21, 2019, ringmaster wrote:
Why do the Royals look to the right or the left ?
What other chooses do they have ?


Up, down, straight ahead?
EndersGame
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Quote:
On Oct 21, 2019, StraightTalkMagicReviews wrote:
Anyone know why the Kings, Queens and Jacks face in a certain direction and why the Jack of Clubs is the only card that does not face the same direction as his Kings and Queen? Some Royals look right, some look left and I don't know why! HELP!!!


I've wondered the same.

4x court cards look to the right: King of Spades, Queen of Spades, Jack of Spades, Jack of Clubs
8x court cards look to the left: King of Clubs, Queen of Clubs, King/Queen/Jack of Hearts, King/Queen/Jack of Diamonds

My guess is that this is a historical thing, and might go back to the artwork of Thomas de la Rue. I've written about the history of court card artwork in my article Historical Curiosities That Shaped Our Modern Deck (Part 2), and noted there that at one time there was a lot of variety in court cards. The French developed and popularized the suits commonly used today. With increasing taxes in France, printing companies moved to Belgium, and Rouen became a center of publishing, with a large export industry to England. That shaped the look of the court cards on English playing cards, but there was still a lot of variety in artwork.

That variety slowly disappeared as a result of the industrious efforts of Briton Thomas de la Rue, who was able to reduce the prices of playing cards due to increased output and productivity. This mass production he accomplished in the 1860s gave him a position of dominance in the industry, and the smaller manufacturers with their independent designs eventually were swallowed up, leading to the more standardized designs as we know them today. De la Rue's designs were first modernized by Reynolds in 1840, and then again by Charles Goodall in 1860, and it is this design that effectively still used today.

That doesn't explain why they face to the left or right, but it likely does explain the standardization we are accustomed to, which primarily has a historical background. Here's the relevant paragraphs from my article:

Quote:
Varying cultural and domestic influences shows a rich variation in the court cards used in different geographical areas, and there was still an enormous diversity in designs of the court cards. But all that changed with the success of Londoner Thomas de la Rue, who first was granted Royal Letters Patent for printing playing cards by letterpress and lithography in 1832. Prices and taxes dropped, output and consumption increased, and the mass production that resulted from this saw the smaller workshops of designers disappear. Under de la Rue, cards became standardized. From this time onwards, new designs have always been considered temporary novelties, and serious card players have always opted to revert back to the traditional designs popularized by de la Rue, and later modernized and adjusted by Charles Goodall into a form very close to a typical Bicycle deck we use today.

Today these designs are still the standard for playing cards. The King of Hearts is typically considered the "suicide king", since he is pictured with a sword in his head. Other interesting details include the fact that the King of Hearts is the only king without a moustache, while the King of Diamonds is called "the man with the axe" since he is the only king carrying an axe instead of a sword. The Queen of Spades is often called the "black lady" or even the "bedpost queen", while the Queen of Clubs is known as the "flower queen" since she is depicted holding a flower. The Jacks were originally called Knaves, referring to royal servants, but this was changed to Jacks because the use of Kn in the index caused confusion with the K of the Kings. The Jack of Diamonds is sometimes denoted "laughing boy".
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